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Record 13 Women Among 2020 Student Academy Award Winners

The winners are eligible to compete in the Animated, Live Action or Documentary Short subject categories at the upcoming Oscars.

2020 Student Academy Awards
Photo courtesy of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored 18 student winners from colleges and universities from around the world for the 47th Student Academy Awards ceremony. In a first-time virtual ceremony hosted by Eugenio Derbez, the gold, silver and bronze medalist winners were announced by a gathering of the industry’s most talented creatives. Showcasing another initiative by the Academy of embracing and nurturing the next generation of diverse talents, 13 out of the 18 winners are women, marking the most diverse class ever honored. The class is also encapsulated by multiple Asian, Latinx and Black artists.

Answering a question from Variety regarding if the group feels like the next generation of filmmakers, many had various perspectives. NYU graduate Karishma Dube, who grew up in India, says she “never really thought about it” while China-born Curry Sicong Tian wants to be accurately categorized as “more of a storyteller than a filmmaker.”

Access to the arts lacks in many communities around the country, in particular communities of color, where arts education isn’t readily available. Brooklyn native and West Indian co-director Maya Mendonca echoed these sentiments saying, “Filmmaking…I never really knew I could that.” She always wanted to be a storyteller but didn’t know in what form. “Animation is our stylistic take on reality. I hope for our next generation of filmmakers that they have that sense of curiosity…and tell their stories.” Mendonca’s animated short “Hamsa” was co-directed by Middle Eastern artist Daniela Dwek and NYC CG Look Developmental animator Chrisy Baek.

All 15 Student Academy Award-winning films are eligible to compete for 2020 Oscars® in the best animated, live-action, or documentary short subject categories and will be listed as contenders on the 2021 Oscar Predictions Hub category pages.

The medalists were announced and presented by artist and filmmaker Shunsaku Hayashi, Oscar-winning animator Glen Keane (“Over the Moon”), Oscar-winner and 1983 Student Academy Award winner Spike Lee (“Da 5 Bloods”), documentary filmmaker Dawn Porter (“John Lewis: Good Trouble” and “The Way I See It”) and writer and director Lulu Wang (“The Farewell”).

The ceremony is available now on StudentAcademyAwards.org, where a preview of all their films is available for viewing.

The 2020 Student Academy Award medalists are:

Alternative/Experimental (Domestic and International Film Schools)
Gold: “Simulacra,” Curry Sicong Tian, University of Southern California

Animation (Domestic Film Schools)
Gold: “Ciervo,” Pilar Garcia-Fernandezsesma, Rhode Island School of Design
Silver: “Mime Your Manners,” Kate Namowicz and Skyler Porras, Ringling College of Art & Design
Bronze: “Hamsa,” Daniela Dwek, Maya Mendonca and Chrisy Baek, School of Visual Arts

Animation (International Film Schools)
Gold: “The Beauty,” Pascal Schelbli, Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg (Germany)

Documentary (Domestic Film Schools)
Gold: “Unfinished Lives,” Yucong Chen, University of Southern California
Silver: “The Dope Years: The Story of Latasha Harlins,” Allison A. Waite, University of Southern California
Bronze: “Making Waves,” Laura Zéphirin, New York University

Documentary (International Film Schools)
Gold: “Dear Father…,” Maren Klakegg, Westerdals Institute of Film and Media, Kristiania University College (Norway)

Narrative (Domestic Film Schools)
Gold: “Umama,” Talia Smith, New York University
Silver: “Bittu,” Karishma Dube, New York University
Bronze: “Sweet Potatoes,” Rommel Villa Barriga, University of Southern California

Narrative (International Film Schools)
Gold: “My Dear Corpses,” German Golub, Baltic Film & Media School, Tallinn University (Estonia)
Silver: “Crescendo,” Percival Argüero Mendoza, Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (Mexico)
Bronze: “I Was Still There When You Left Me,” Marie Mc Court, Institut des Arts de Diffusion (Belgium)

Established in 1972, past Student Academy Award winners include Patricia Cardoso (“Real Women Have Curves”), Pete Docter (“Up”), Cary Joji Fukunaga (“Beasts of No Nation”), Trey Parker (“South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut”), Patricia Riggen (“The 33”) and Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”). Past winners have gone on to receive more than 60 Oscar nominations.

The nominations for the Academy Awards will be announced on March 15, 2021, while the ceremony is scheduled for April 25, 2021.